Where the Scaffold Law Came From and What It Means Now

Western New York Personal Injury Law Blog

Where the Scaffold Law Came From and What It Means Now

On Behalf of Campbell & Associates | Aug 12, 2022 | Construction Accidents

Almost everyone working in construction in New York is aware of the scaffold law, as it is a source of industry controversy. Companies in the construction industry and even building owners have tried over the years to repeal or at least limit the Scaffold Law. Thus far, such efforts have been unsuccessful.

While construction professionals may know that their employers or clients feel strongly about the Scaffold Law, they may not know what it really means or even the origins of the law that may have a major impact on their overall safety.

Workers in the construction industry in New York have protection thanks to a law enacted more than a century ago. Despite major changes in other areas of employment law in New York and constant challenges from business and building owners, the Scaffold Law continues to protect construction workers around the state by imposing liability on those that own buildings or manage construction projects.

The origins of the Scaffold Law

For more than 100 years, building owners and project managers have had to consider gravity-related liability when planning new construction projects or renovations. Labor Law 240 imposes absolute liability on property owners or the companies managing renovation projects for gravity-related injuries.

When a worker falls or suffers an injury because something falls on them, the Scaffold Law usually applies. This rule has been in place since 1885. At the time that state lawmakers created the Scaffold Law, there was neither an obligation for employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance nor strict regulations regarding workplace safety and worker training.

This law continues to help protect workers by motivating companies to put safety above potential cost-cutting measures when investing in a construction project.

What does this law mean for you today?
The Scaffold Law, despite being the source of much industry controversy, is still on the books and enforceable. A worker who suffers an injury in a gravity-related incident in New York can potentially file a workers’ compensation claim or bring a claim under the Scaffold Law for any of the losses they suffer.

Learning more about the unique workplace protection laws in New York, like the Scaffold Law, can help those coping with injuries get the support they require.


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